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Filmmaking, having fun, and making friends!

It was all so fun I can’t say which was a highlight. – Participant

A group of ten teenagers with Diabetes gathered in Athlone in the winter of 2018 to learn about filmmaking …. and inadvertently practiced some self-management skills along the way! The project sought to give participants who were aged between 13-16 an opportunity to express themselves and their experiences in a non-explicit way.

Mentored by lead artist Siobhan Clancy and filmmakers Colm Mullen and Westmeath local Ciaran O’Donnell, the young people devised, scripted, acted in and shot their own short film. They learned lots of new creative skills including camera operation, sound recording and boom operation, lighting and directing. They were pleasantly surprised at “how good the tech was” and “didn’t think it could be this professional”.

I think if we had a story already planned out, it wouldn’t be as natural for us and it wouldn’t have been as fun either. – Participant

Thanks to Athlone Arts & Tourism, the young people had the opportunity to film on location in historical Athlone Castle (learning a little bit about the Siege of Athlone in the process) and they even wore some of the medieval-style costumes for the sequences they created.

It is very important that it is the young people driving the ideas, that they are coming up with the story world and problem solving with the artists along the way in how to realise that world on film. These young people have never met each other before, and they only have two days to devise the story, learn the skills needed to film it, and to film it, so this requires a lot of interpersonal skills to make it happen.

Project Manager Emma Eager


By connecting together through filmmaking, the young people developed skills such as discipline, team work, commitment, taking responsibility, and setting goals, all key skills in supporting self-management. The majority of the teenagers emphasised how much they had “made friends” and “had fun” and that meeting so many nice people was their highlight of the weekend.

An inspirational experience for teenagers, all with diabetes, to bond and learn while having fun and being creative. A unique unforgettable opportunity for all. – Mother and Nurse

SNAP! was produced by Helium Arts in partnership with Midlands Hospital Mullingar and Athlone Arts & Tourism and is funded by the Arts Council, Westmeath Arts Office, Creative Ireland, Healthy Ireland, and the HSE. We gratefully acknowledge the support of Athlone Castle and the volunteers from the Westmeath branch of Diabetes Ireland.

Watch the film trailer here:


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Helium Arts is a registered charity and compliant with the requirements of the Charities Regulator, the national regulatory authority for charities in Ireland


CHY Number: 19236
Registered Charity Number (RCN): 20075200
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